2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

The suspension shows the benefits of its European breeding and optional active dampers in the way it soaks up road imperfections without any signs of float. Moving the shifter to the left puts the car in sport mode, which brings on quicker shifts and even firmer dampening. Still, you won't confuse the LaCrosse for a sport sedan, thanks to a bit of excess body roll through sweeping turns and light steering.

Our fully loaded tester lists for $39,325 - quite a hefty sticker for a front-wheel-drive, V-6 sedan. For only a little more, you can get a Hyundai Genesis with just as much equipment, along with rear-wheel drive and nearly 100 extra horsepower. Even looking within GM's lineup, forty grand will buy you a dynamically superior and, in my opinion, better looking and more prestigious Cadillac CTS. Having said all that, a LaCrosse CXS without all the goodies starts at a more reasonable $33,765, and the smaller V-6 lists in the high twenties (a 2.4-liter four-cylinder model will arrive in late 2009 with an even lower sticker).

GM sees the LaCrosse going after competitors ranging from the Hyundai Azera to the Lexus ES. It will be interesting to see whether Buick will be able to get those prized higher-end import buyers, as it has with the Enclave. My guess is it might have some trouble. Even as I was pulling out of the garage, the attendant sarcastically asked if I was "going to pick up girls." Yes, Buick sedans have a certain stigma. Competent and refined though it may be, the LaCrosse will have to overcome that stigma before it gets Lexus ES owners - people interested first and foremost in the prestige of their ride - to switch teams.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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